Giving Thanks Beyond November 30th

One week after Thanksgiving, the notes of “I’m thankful for…” have started to slow and will eventually come to a halt. It’s also three weeks after the national presidential election and the clever memes have all but become a distant memory. So what really has staying power in a society that seems to have collective attention deficit disorder? Business, commerce and the belief that if you work hard enough, prosperity will come to you.

In Chicago alone, there are 293,400 woman-owned businesses and counting. Almost 6,300 business licenses were administered between January 1 and August 31 of this year, and in 2011, Chicago saw its largest patent distribution in over a decade. Yes, there are signs of defeat with empty store fronts in every neighborhood, crime rates reaching absurd heights and unemployment still too high, but the one thing that has stayed constant has been the people behind those neighborhood businesses. They don’t flee their community when times get hard or abandon the core of their being – the entrepreneurial spirit.

So why do they do it? Why do entrepreneurs continue to build in the City of Big Shoulders? “I’ve always wanted to do my own thing, and I came across this kitchen and I thought it [Lincoln Park] was an ideal location,” says Christine McCabe, proud owner of recently opened Interurban Café and Pastry Shop (click here to learn more). Laurie Gawinski Sharfman says, “It’s freedom to have a family and expand my business on my schedule!” Freedom and flexibility are common themes from respondents on the WBDC Facebook wall as well as with many conversations I’ve had with entrepreneurs. Estaban Marin, a WBDC client located in the Little Village neighborhood, says, “My goal is to be able to create a solid foundation for my business to grow and increase revenue to positively impact my community.”

The “spirit of the season” will start to fade all too quickly, but try to give it sticking power! Go out into your community and support those that support you. Think of the little things you can do because they add up – for every $100 spent at a locally owned store, $68 stay within the community. Meaning $68 goes into the schools, the roads and the safety of your community every time $100 is spent at a local business. Don’t wait around for Small Business Saturday every November, but instead think about how you can support the cycle of success.

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About Hedy M. Ratner

Hedy M. Ratner is founder and co-president of the Women's Business Development Center, the largest, oldest and most comprehensive and successful women's business assistance center in the U.S. She blogs about entrepreneurship, working women, success stories, small business and more in “Windows to Business Success.”